Top Ten Experiences at and around Lake Kerkini
Meadows, rivers, mountains, and a lake. The prefecture of Serres is rich in natural beauty and attractions, historic sites, and good food. These are our 10 favorite experiences at Lake Kerkini and in the surrounding areas.
Text: Lina Kapetaniou
Translation: Lisa Radinovsky
1. Boating on the lake. At the port in the village of Kerkini, you can get on one of the tour boats and take a great ride on the lake and across the wetland. The tour lasts about two hours and offers a unique opportunity to see the lake and its surroundings from a boat.
2. History lessons. A visit to Fort Roupel is worth the few kilometers of turns that lead from the main road to the entrance of the fort, not only to see the underground passages, but also to learn a lot of history. The soldiers who work at the fort are fully informed and will recount the history of the fort and describe the battle of 1941.
3. Freshwater fish. They may not be famous for their taste and may have many spines, but there are only a few places in Greece where you can try freshwater fish. Carp (called grivadia or kyprini in Greek) and wels catfish (or wuliani) are served in the tavernas of the villages around the lake, usually fried.
4. Zoo in the countryside. At Lake Kerkini and around it, you will see rare animals as well as other more common creatures. In one small area, you will come across buffalo, cows, sheep, and (depending on the season) possibly foxes and hares, plus dozens of birds and fish, of course. Storks, cormorants, herons, and eagles live at the lake.
5. The precious buffalo. This huge, congenial animal is bred around the lake and generates many products. Apart from the actual meat, which is quite tasty, buffalo milk is used to produce pasta and sweets. In the villages of Kerkini, Livadia and Rodopoli, you will find buffalo meat as well as milk, butter, and the sweet kazan dipi, a wonderful dessert resembling crème brûlée which takes on a particular taste when made with buffalo milk.
6. Hot springs. The hot water springs from the mountain and comes straight to your own little pool, which fills with steam. The Therapeutic Springs in Agistro is open 24 hours a day, so you could even visit on a cold night. A reservation is required; call 23230-41420.
7. The city from above. Sidirokastro is a quiet little town surrounded by hills which offer spectacular views of both the town and the plain of Serres. Climb Sotiros (Savior) Hill and the hill where the Issaris Byzantine Castle is located.
8. Local flavors. Just outside the village of Makrynitsa, the Evora Taverna is ideally situated under the trees. In Pontian, “evora” means “shade from trees,” and the family that operates the taverna carefully cooks local dishes as well as many examples of Pontian cuisine.
9. High architectural style. The Holy Monastery of Saint John the Baptist in Akritochori is a wonderful example of ecclesiastical architecture. The buildings were designed according to the standards of Mount Athos, while the exteriors are very nicely landscaped with trees and plants. Among other things, the monastery has a wonderful view of the wetlands, Lake Kerkini, and the plain of Serres.
10. Crossing the border. Lake Kerkini is located very close to the Greek-Bulgarian border. It is worth taking a trip into the neighboring country to visit the village of Petritsi (or Petrich) to shop and the village of Melnik to eat. Both villages are very close to the border, and you can